Several characters in All Quiet on the Western Front illustrates how warfare can bring out a thirst for power and capacity for petty brutality that was latent during one’s civilian life

Several characters in All Quiet on the Western Front illustrates how warfare can bring out a thirst for power and capacity for petty brutality that was latent during one’s civilian life. The foot soldiers in the novel endure unspeakable distress and danger while the commanding officers remain safely ensconced away from the front lines and make decisions that demonstrate a literal disregard for the lives of the men in the trenches.
The best example of a petty and power hungry man in All Quiet is Himmelstoss. In civilian life, he was a simple postman, a position relatively lacking in power. However, during war he becomes a brutal bully at the training camps. Knowing the new recruits must obey him, he puts them through extreme hazing and forces them to follow pointless orders that often lead them into distressing and dangerous situations, all simply because he can. He is tasting power for the first time and it has brought out an ugly side to his character.